This article is one of two about the different technical and purchasing considerations related to buying an iPad for yourself or as a gift this holiday season. The research was done Nov. 1-8.
If you're shopping for an iPad this holiday season, don’t expect to find too many bargains. An estimated 4.19 million have already flown off the shelves in the third quarter of this year alone and Apple, as well as their investors probably aren’t feeling the need to be overly charitable.
No matter where you buy a new iPad — either online or at Ye’Olde Bricks-and-Mortar outlet — the tablet is basically going to be the same price. In fact, the price point is the same at six of the seven official Apple iPad retailers – Best Buy, Best Buy Mobile , Wal-Mart, Target, Verizon and AT&T.
In a deal inked with Apple, AT&T and Verizon began selling iPads in October equipped to anywhere and anytime connections to their own wireless networks. AT&T is carrying the three Wi-Fi and 3G models, while Verizon sells three versions bundled with Verizon’s Mi-Fi mobile hotspot. These more expensive iPads are useful to users when there is no Wi-Fi connection available.
Only Amazon has a price variance, and there you’re going to pay more! But hey, at least at Amazon iPad’s are available to purchase online. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target are all out of stock online. On each company’s website, it suggests buyers head on down to the closest store (people still do that?) to snatch one up.
Of course, Apple has them available online, while AT&T and Verizon don’t offer the iPad over the Web.
So, if you have a gadget geek in the family or a loved one who appears to be susceptible to mobile advertising (see that interesting story here ), and whether you’re aiming for the top of the line 64GB Wi-Fi +3G ($829.99) or a more modest machine (like the one my cheap boss insisted on for me) such as the 16GB Wi-Fi ($499.99) version, iPadNewsDaily has a few tips for you to consider.
Of course, we shouldn't neglect the costs of shipping before moving forward. Every official retailer that offers the iPad for sale online ships the device for free. Everyone, that is, except Amazon. The online retail giant has varying shipping rates depending on location.
Which iPad to buy?
Meditating on which iPad is right for you shouldn’t short-circuit your personal hardwiring. It’s fairly straightforward. Prices range from $499 to $829. The more you pay the more storage space you get, and in turn, the more room for music, videos, games and other fun apps to play with when the boss isn’t looking.
According to many iPad owners I’ve spoken with, the tablet has replaced their laptops for light duties such as surfing the Internet, sending emails, finding friends on Facebook, or just looking at photos, watching videos and listening to music.
But they don't think it's going to replace their laptop altogether.
"Not many people see it as a total replacement for the laptop," said a helpful sales rep at Manhattan's Best Buy at Union Square. He asked iPadNewsDaily not use his name because the official "iPad guy" (who, by the way, is on duty at Best Buy most days from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) might take offense at a gadget and electronics generalist like himself talking about the iPad with the press.
However, this sales rep did provide some inside info for our readers. "The 32GB is the one most people leave with," he said.
"Sure, we get mostly tourists in here and they don't have 3G overseas."
Good point. While that makes sense, it isn't go to help us much until we have the Wi-Fi versus the Wi-Fi +3G discussion a little later on.
How much memory?
Another sales associate, this one a press shy employee at the Apple Store in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, confirmed the 32GB Wi-Fi's status as king of the iPads.
"The 16GB is fine for most people, but for only a hundred bucks more you're getting practically double the machine," he said one recent Monday morning as at least one hundred visitors milled around the crowded floor space.
When pressed about upgrading once more to the top of the line (64GB) for another mere $100, he responded with the wisdom of someone who might not own Apple shares in his portfolio.
"Most people aren't going to need that much space," he said.
As for drawbacks, according to the few who would concede the tablet actually had some, creating long documents like spreadsheets and presentations is all but impossible on the iPad. And the iPad doesn't have USB slots, it doesn't come with a camera, there is no Flash compatibility (more on that here ), and last but certainly not least it is limited in its multitasking ability.
And getting that information from an iPad enthusiast is like pulling teeth.
Oh, yeah. Also, it doesn’t have a physical keyboard, but you can buy one for it.
Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi+3G?
The three models all come with either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi+3G.
The Wi-Fi version can only browse the Web where wireless Internet access is available, while the 3G is supported by AT&T Wireless’ network. So for an extra $30 per month you can connect to the Internet just about anywhere. The good news on this is that unlike with the iPhone, A&T does not require a contract, so you work on month-to-month basis.
Part 2: Where to Buy an iPad, Plus Financing and Warranty Programs